Fujifilm Camera | Popular Photography

Fujifilm Camera and Lens Factory Tour

See how Fujifilm crafts some of its X-series lenses

A worker in the clean room at the Fujifilm Optics Co. Taiwa Factory in Japan passes a Fujinon XF100–400mm f/4.5–5.6 R LM OIS WR lens down the assembly line.

Miriam Leuchter

A lot of hand-assembly goes into each 100–400mm zoom made in the clean room.

Miriam Leuchter

This relatively compact telephoto zoom (a 150–600mm full-frame equivalent on Fujifilm's APS-C-format X-series cameras) has an optical image stabilization system and extensive weather sealing built in.

Miriam Leuchter

It takes nearly four hours (220 minutes) to produce each lens, a process that includes at least seven different tests and inspections along the way.

Miriam Leuchter

A prime lens, Fujifilm’s XF35mm f/2 R WR is far simpler to build than the 100–400mm zoom, but it still requires a lot of hand work.

Miriam Leuchter

Some of the manufacturing process, such as UV bonding, which takes place behind yellow safety shields, is automated, but individual workers still need to set up and check each step.

Miriam Leuchter

The company brought just a handful of journalists along with dozens of Fujifilm distributors and communications teams from around the globe on this tour of the Taiwa plant in January 2016. Here in the clean room for lens production, the visitors wear blue bonnets while the factory workers are in all-white.

Miriam Leuchter

Each 35mm lens takes about 80 minutes to build.

Miriam Leuchter

In another part of the Taiwa factory, Fujifilm's new X-Pro2 mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact camera is in production for release in February.

Miriam Leuchter

Each stage of production of the X-Pro2 requires a certain amount of hand-work.

Miriam Leuchter

The green box at this workstation holds hundreds of tiny screws.

Miriam Leuchter

As the cameras take shape, they need to undergo various tests along the way. Ensuring that the imaging sensor is correctly aligned is both the most important and most difficult part of the process, according to the factory chief.

Miriam Leuchter

Each step of the process takes a different amount of time, so the plant keeps track of how many cameras are at what stage of production. On a regular day, without visitors in the way, the Taiwa factory will make about 800 X-Pro2 bodies.

Miriam Leuchter

Assembling the X-Pro2 goes relatively quickly—it takes about 20 minutes in production.

Miriam Leuchter

Each X-Pro2, nearly finished, will go from here into a series of image quality tests that we were not permitted to photograph.

Miriam Leuchter

Fujifilm X-T1 tops sit ready to have all of their many working parts, including an electronic viewfinder, added before being attached to the body.

Miriam Leuchter

The X-T1 has 200 tiny parts in the top portion alone, and assembling the top takes 50 percent of the camera's total assembly time.

Miriam Leuchter

In the packing room, empty boxes await the 100–400mm zoom.

Miriam Leuchter

Each product goes through a final visual inspection at the factory before it’s engraved with a serial number and the words "Made in Japan."

Miriam Leuchter

To honor our visit, part of Fujifilm's celebration of the fifth anniversary of its X series, these lenses got a special engraving.

Miriam Leuchter

Covered head-to-toe in lint-free fabric, from the double-layered hood to the surgical mask to the padded booties, how could I resist using a Fujifilm camera to take a selfie? Along with about two dozen other visitors, I was about to enter the “clean room” at Fujifilm Optics Co., Ltd.’s Taiwa Factory north of Sendai, Japan. We’d be able to photograph (with some restrictions) and take notes on special dust-free paper—after passing through a chamber lined with air nozzles to blow off any motes that might cling to our gear.

No wonder my hosts took such precautions. Inside we observed two production lines as workers in outfits identical to ours assembled, inspected, and fine-tuned hundreds of new Fujinon XF100–400mm f/4.5–5.6 R LM OIS WR and XF35mm f/2 R WR Fujifilm camera lenses. If you hate getting grit on your lens, imagine how upset you’d be to discover some inside it!

Although Fujifilm makes its glass elements elsewhere, this pristine room is where they get cemented together into groups, coated, and combined with the mechanical and electronic parts that make them work. These two models, like all WR lenses, also get weather sealing. Each lens undergoes inspections and tests, ensuring that quality issues are addressed on the spot. (Alas, testing was the one thing we were not allowed to photograph—I would have loved to have shown it to our own lens tester and lab manager, Julia Silber.)

The process combines a lot of painstaking handwork with some automation. Each image-stabilized 100–400mm zoom takes about 220 minutes to finish. Putting together each 35mm prime takes about 80 minutes. The factory chief told us that most complex part of Fujifilm’s camera lens manufacturing process is the quality assurance testing, especially resolution. Dust inspection, for instance, is now done with highly accurate, automated machinery, and the factory’s instruments can detect a micron-level of displacement in the glass.

In another part of the Taiwa factory, we saw hand assembly lines for Fujifilm cameras, including the X-T1 and new X-Pro2 cameras. The top section of the X-T1 alone has 200 tiny parts. As for the X-Pro2, the plant makes about 800 per day.

For photographers, the proof of quality is in the shooting. All of the photos in this gallery are JPEGs taken with the X-Pro2 Fujifilm camera and Fujinon XF18–55mm f/2.8–4 R LM OIS lens, though we reduced the resolution for speedier viewing on your browser. Keep an eye out for our full lab and field test of the X-Pro2 in the coming weeks.

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